Hong Kong Christian Service

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Issue 019
2017 May

Concern for Children Welfare

Under our Family and Community Core Business (FCB), the two Integrated Family Service Centres (IFSCs), Foster Care Service and Small Group Home Service (SGHs) are working hard for the welfare of children at risks. IFSC provides counselling and assistance to families with children at risks on all sorts of social services. SGHs provide care and accommodation to children at risks who have to move away from their families of origin due to sudden and unexpected circumstances.

These services encounter many difficulties when trying to help the children at risks, such as, when a doctor referred the family of an impaired new born to IFSC for parenting counselling but the parents were unwilling to contact the social worker; another example is: after a child was admitted to foster family or SGH, the contact with his/her family members became less and eventually prolonged the period of stay which made the child felt abandoned and caused emotional problems. In view of the supporting services and social policies are inadequate to effectively guarantee children’s rights, our FCB formed a working group in 2015 to focus on children’s rights. The working group would analyse problems encounter, visit professional bodies and professionals who are concern about children’s rights and organise related training to frontline staff to broaden their horizon and intervention methods in the following areas: legislation, medical, children’s rights, family based intervention method, cross disciplinary collaboration, etc.

The Subcommittee on Children’s Rights has just been formed in this legislative term, our working group seized this opportunity to share our opinions in two public hearings on 3 issues: “Protect children at risks, tackle the acute shortage of emergency residential child care places”, “Our response to increase foster care quota and foster care allowance” and “Address the long-term welfare planning for residential child care service”. We also shared our recommendations that the government should increase emergency places for infants and SGH and enhance the development of foster care service to relief the service needs; to provide counselling service and other professional supports to foster children. We advocated that SWD should conduct a comprehensive review together with the sector on the calculation of foster care allowance and eligibility criteria. The strategy to recruit foster families has to be updated so that more families are willing to become foster families. With regard to long term welfare planning on children, our working group recommended that the government should make better use of the data bank on cases for residential service, to establish a long term welfare planning commission on children and set up detailed implementation guidelines so that all parties concerned could plan and implement according to a uniformed standard.

Furthermore, Dr. the Hon Mr. Fernando Cheung Chiu Hung and Mrs. Cross Li, General Manager of our FCB and the sector advocated and shared through interviews to arouse public attention towards situations of high risks children and difficulties of residential child care services. Our FCB has begun discussions, participated in consultation and submitted opinions on the Procedures for Handling Child Abuse Cases which SWD is reviewing.

With regard to the future direction of FCB, we shall keep raising the professional awareness of our staff on one hand and have cross-disciplinary collaboration on areas of medical and drug abuse on the other; we would explore and develop more effective service delivery models and cooperate with the sector to concern for and monitor all issues about children’s rights; continue to advocate that the government should set up a long-term welfare commission on children, and actively participate to review the procedure on child abuse cases in order to go for a more effective policy to protect high-risk children and families.

Please visit our website for more details on our advocacy of children’s rights:

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